A little noticed moment at the Democratic National Convention that had a historical resonance for many occurred when Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, took the stage in Charlotte and compared President Obama to her dad.
Kennedy, 57, has been an avid supporter of Obama from the beginning of his presidential odyssey, famously penning an essay in 2008 for the New York Times with the title, “A President Like My Father.”
In Charlotte, Kennedy continued that theme, repeatedly invoking her father in a speech that attempted to remind young people that they are a crucial element in Obama’s re-election and that praised the president for his courage in fighting for abortion rights and for healthcare.
“He has the quality my father most admired in public life: courage,” Kennedy said.
For Obama, the historical linking of the first black president to Kennedy, the storied prince of America’s Baby Boom generation, is significant—particularly when the linkage is done by Kennedy’s only surviving child.
“Over the past four years, we have had a president who has committed himself and his administration to the values that made America great—economic fairness, equal opportunity, and the belief that if each of us gives back to this country we love, all of us work together, there is no challenge we cannot overcome,” Kennedy said. “Those are the ideals my father and my uncles fought for. Those are the ideals I believe in. And this election is about whether we will advance those ideals or let them be swept away.”
Kennedy said she was inspired in 2008 by Obama’s vision for America—”an America where we look out for one another, where we take responsibility for our sisters and brothers, and most of all for our children.
“Back then I was inspired by the promise of a Barack Obama presidency—today I’m inspired by his record,” Kennedy said. “Barack Obama is the kind of leader my father wrote about in ‘Profiles in Courage.’ He doesn’t just do what’s easy. He does what’s hard. He does what’s right.”
“My father couldn’t run for a second term—it was left to his brothers, our family and a generation they inspired to fight for an America he believed in,” she continued. “Now it’s up to a new generation, our children’s generation, to carry America forward. So let me say to the young, and the young at heart, Barack Obama is only president because you worked for him, you believed in him, because you convinced your parents to vote for him. Young people have always led America toward a brighter future. It happened in 1960, it happened in 2008, and if you show the same spirit in this election that you did in the last, I know we’ll make history on Nov. 6.”
While conservative icon Bill O’Reilly said Kennedy’s speech was so “astonishing” that it “made my head snap back”—and not in a good way—the Los Angeles Times said it was “an important moment for Obama.”